This week, Concordia University in Montreal became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to partially divest from fossil fuels by establishing a $5 million dollar fund in support of renewable energy. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, Divest Concordia denounced the move as “a flat-out rejection of student calls for full divestment from fossil fuels.”
The fund, conceived separately from Concordia’s $95 million endowment, would still allow the university to invest in fossil fuels. Under this pretense, one member of Divest Concordia deemed the fund “a simple green-washing tactic” in a press release.
PR move or not, it is still the only step forward we’ve seen from a Canadian institution since the divestment movement has begun to gain momentum. In October, the University of Glasgow brought attention to the cause by becoming the first European university to completely divest from fossil fuels, withdrawing a total of £18 million of investment in the fossil fuel industry.
“We were expecting the same kind of leadership as the University of Glasgow,” said Marcus Peters, member of Divest Concordia, in a press release, “instead Concordia missed an opportunity to take real leadership on the most urgent issue facing humanity — climate change.”
Some are hopeful, however. “This is an important first step,” said Benjamin Prunty, president of the Concordia Student Union, to the Montreal Gazette, “But students require a greater commitment to sustainability than this.”
Divest Concordia said that they will keep campaigning for a complete divestment from fossil fuels.